Friday, March 05, 2021

‘Cheering To The Echo’ - Kings Of Leon's latest single

Except for last spring’s single ‘Going Nowhere’, there’s been scant issue from KoL studios, these past fifty-one months.  But I’m happy to report a grand compensation in the Nashville quartet’s newly arrived single, Echoing. Grand compensation. 

Echoing sounds as if it’s just busted out of Sun Studio riding a bulldozer.  A  thickly layered pile of scratchy, fuzz-toned, pulverised Danelectros (they play Gibsons), it is at the same time a rapturous wave of reverb. And an urgent, relentless shuffle skipping on triplets, which, for its 3 minutes and 37 seconds, feels as if it might explode...

Yet throughout all the fuzz and the fury, there’s a primary appeal in the warmth it generates. Big chunks of crunchy, choppy open major-chords then broadened and textured by a higher, major seventh voicing. There’s something so simple yet so exquisite in this, and the intangible impression of longing created amidst the noise.  If I’ve lost you in theory, just think to the chorus in ‘1979’ by the Smashing Pumpkins. It, too, captures a certain far-awayness, a kind of plaintive dreaminess.  I think also of Lord Huron’s ‘Love Like Ghosts’ (the vocal hook, particularly) and ‘Until the Night Turns’, both tunes simultaneously harrowing and love-struck. 

Echoing luxuriates in it.  And in this sense of longing, strange comfort: 'Waiting on a memory, waiting on a memory’, it refrains, falling into minor-key.  This is seamless. 

In saying so, however, the Echoing could do with a little more measure when considering the lyrics as a whole. Certainly, given the depth in its arrangement, it’s a shame a similar one wasn’t achieved in word.  Particularly following the refrain, as it plunges headlong into that gorgeous and expansive major seventh chord (there I go again): ‘Said if you love me and you’re willing to dance / We could take to the high seas’. Hmm. Not the traditional setting for tripping the light fantastic.  Nor is the outro fully served in what is otherwise a thrilling, climax-off-a-cliff finale: ‘Sometimes you’re slow / Sent from a mountain high / Where flours are made from grain / We’ll be sailing a blue sky’. Coherence in short supply, there. (What happened to the high seas?)

Notwithstanding, Echoing is a hand-grenade.  Its bombast and sheer infectiousness, lethal. So I’m ok with a four-year hiatus between albums, just as long as it ensures that a hit single can still be so enrapturing.

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